Love the thread, one pedant point.
The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos.
Love the thread, one pedant point.
The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos.
I think open world games that model themselves in the GTA mould are the ones that get seriously repetitive. SR to an extent, GTA, Prototype...these games typically feature a huge world to explore, but little in the way of interaction. For example, you can't enter non-prescribed buildings. Game "activities", apart from the main missions, consist of strange spinning markers that feature some strange activity. The strange thing is that these little side missions have absolutely no meaningful context and consists of repeating the same very narrow, very repetitive action. Killing gangsters that materialize out of thin air. Finish an obstacle course within the prescribed time. Finish a race within the prescribed time. There is more or less no in-game reason why your avatar is handed a gun/tank/car when he's at a particular place and made to kill/race. Literally none. And the worse thing is, these mini-games have absolutely no effect or consequence to or in the game world. They are abstract, self contained snippets of activities that are just placed there for you to complete. Saint's Row attempted to give some narrative context to its minigames which was nice but it still didn't avoid the problem of monotony setting in. What we need is a.) extra flavor b.) solid game mechanics that support emergent, dynamic moments even against a limited selection of enemies/locales.
Basically think of a typical vigilante mission in GTA. Compare that with a car chase scene in any B movie. There's a huge frickin' gulf. And imo this could be solved with good simulation/mechanics rather than scripting.
Well they're sticking with working formula right,what if they try to innovate and then bum public doesn't like what they made.. On other hand Ubisoft is trying slightly something more different with that new sandbox game with hacker (Dog ? something..).
I think the main problem with open world game is that they aren't and they won't be for a very long time, if ever. There are only a limited repertoir of things that you can actually do in these games due to development limitations so inevitably they focus on things like combat and quests which can't help but produce repetative game play. The same is true for ever other genre though.
Thats not to say that the genre is doomed, its not as if Skyrim was a commerical failure and at least the facade of an open world is attractive to many gamers.
A game like DeadState may well be bring the genre forward as it not only has the standard genre elements like exploration but it also has, or at least is supposed to have, quite a strong focus on character development/interaction as well as base building elements.
Ironically the 'game' from the recreated Black Isle actually sounds like it would be a pretty good open world game, at least on paper.
I love me some Wizardry lol.
I know it seems like I am saying, "Well, now I have enjoyed all these hours of open world goodness, I'll troll everyone by claiming I didn't and that the genre is a complete failure." I understand your point here.
The picture I want to paint, though, is one of a gradual progression from naivety to realization regarding open world games. Oblivion was my introduction. To both open worlds and the modding scene. I had encountered neither one before. For a goodly long time during the whole Oblivion/Fallout run, I was caught up in adding content to my games and even tweaking them myself using the tool kit. Even made one smallish quest mod. Fascinating times.
As time wore on, however - and I completed my degree in psychology with a focus on the Behavioral sort in my final classes - I slowly reached the realization that its all the same. This genre isn't doing anything new. No one is changing the formula. This is most prevalent in Skyrim, where Oblivion Gates have become dragons and the Stones have become Souls. Where soulless fetch quests dominate and even make up a goodly portion of the main quest. Open world games began as an endless array of possibilities I could not wait to discover and have become a boring slog through the same recycled content gradually, over time.
Is this the same thing as simply having tired of them? The possibility exists. But I don't think that explains things. Not entirely. I enjoyed DXHR, which, while not as open, featured side questions, choices and optional tasks. As we have mentioned herein, however, the rewards were wildly different in this game, where completing side missions yielded new information, some of which overlapped with the main story and added depth to your character and the world.
Which brings me to a huge reason for ambivalence toward open world games. They are rich with possibility. They could evolve, be an ever-shifting sand that would keep you guessing at what circumstance might arise next. I hear Guild Wars 2 is trying this. Some of the evolving events could even happen based on choices you made. But this isn't the case. They are stale, static. From beginning to end of the my 300hrs in Fallout: New Vegas very little changed. I even went as far as to make a small, personal mod to rebuild Prim at one point just to see some changes, because so little evolved over time.
Open world games are stale. Their content exists in a vacuum. No matter how man side quests you do, the only thing affected are some background numbers. Dice rolls and allegiance "points" perhaps. You gain no real reputation in this world you inhabit. No one fears or respects your more as a result of your storied endeavors. Nothing ever changes. And the quests never overlap. Every one exists in isolation, just for your sake, to give you more turns on the hamster wheel. Obtaining an artifact from dungeon means nothing in the larger context of the world or its narrative. The static nature of the worlds and their failure to recognize your endeavors within that world have caused me to grow mostly indifferent to the genre, but this has been a progression over time, not a sudden realization that came all at once.
Thanks again for chiming in.
The open world system is fine, it's the content and things we're allowed to do in it that get boring. Now that the novelty of being able to powerwalk up mountains has worn off, you're seeing the biggest flaw in any game world - how little your actions matter in the grand scheme of things.
Skyrim made it somewhat interesting because you basically were a god - you could literally speak ice beams into existence and send people flying off mountains. It gave us new toys to use in its sandbox instead of the same ones we've already had.
Dues Ex did have the right idea by giving you more information if you did things for people, but it wasn't really an open world at all. It was still a series of (yellow) corridors you had to navigate by either shooting, messing with computers, or crawling through vents. It was extremely restricted.
I thought Dishonored handled open world the best this year for the same reason Skyrim did before - it gave us new things to play around with, new ways to do everything except the main story. But like Skryim, it won't last forever. Far Cry 3 on the other hand failed miserably for me because I'd already done everything in it many times before. Other than shooting endangered species, there wasn't anything even remotely new in there.
Not to criticise, but maybe you're simply overthinking them? I think I went through a similar period in Oblivion. I'd sit there and highlight all the things I couldn't do and exaggerate all the flaws in doing so. Then I stopped worrying and just played the game.
It's true that your actions don't have far-reaching consequences outside of a main plot line, but at the same time you complain that you're always cast as the hero. Not everybody's actions are far-reaching, for everything you do to have big consequences in the game world you're being pushed into that hero role again. And also we run into the content issue where you can't accommodate all those consequences very easily. Alternatively you can but it's purely about gameplay mechanics, and not narrative.
In X3 for example I could hypothetically bring the game world to its knees by systematically destroying all of the energy production facilities and replacing them with my own (probably, actually maybe not the AI might try to stop that), or in Warband I can crush a faction beneath my jackboot, but the game response is limited. It does have a major impact on the game world in terms of how things now play out, but from a story perspective unless I'm making my own the game barely mentions it in passing. It's hard to accommodate for every possibility, same as how The Walking Dead eventually had to converge plot lines.
Sitting here now I can tell you that, for all that it did not do, Skyrim managed a ton of improvements over Oblivion. The brawling; the bards. The NPC's working in farms, speaking to one another in manners that express relationships to one another. The fact that not every conversation existed or took place for your benefit alone. Skyrim was and still is a flawed beast, but its a far more refined creature than its predecessors, even so. Or it will be, when they get it finished. :)
Right now I am pretty fixated on Far Cry 3 as my open world adventure. Its slow going. Otherwise I get eaten by tigers. Or bitten by Kimodos. Or trounced by a leopard. Or run down by giant almost-ostriches. Or snake bit. And when something really dangerous isn't happening, I occasionally also get shot at. And none of this scripted, mind. Which is all pretty fantastic.
But if I play it long enough at a stretch I start to over think it. To notice flaws hiding underneath what is a pretty darn decent game. It wouldn't be my GOTY - nothing else would, in a year that included Dishonored or possibly the new XCOM - but it sure ain't as bad as I at first thought, either. Perhaps by the time I finish it and take another break for something more tightly driven by narrative, Skyrim will be finished and the mods won't need to keep changing based on patches. That's when things really good with Bethesda games anyway - about 18 months after release (circa 3 days after the finished product.)
Thanks for pointing this out, Soldant, because to some extent it is true. I do over think things. And usually, its about the time I should be taking a break anyway. Sometimes it just takes another pair of eyes looking at the problem to offer some new perspective, and perhaps even a solution you can't readily see yourself.
And who knows - maybe with the new console hardware coming soon, the worlds will get bigger. Or the AI smarter. Or both. We can dream.
Another big problem for modern open world games is that there are still significant tech and/or manpower constraints about number of enemy types. As a minimum you really want several times more types than in an Elder Scrolls game, but that would be hard to manage. It also means that you're not very likely to have many major enemy types that don't appear very much. Again, ideally you wouldn't encounter many dragons in Skyrim and dragon kills would be a major thing. But if you're going to spend all that effort making something as big and impressive, you're naturally going to throw in plenty of them.
I suppose what we need is just enough stability to make the main quest completable, or an interestingly degradable objective list. For example, a fantasy country under seige or imperilled by plague. The main objective might be some personal quest against this backdrop, and once this is done, the "sandbox goal" is to save the country and stop the source of the danger, while protecting the king/capital city, and if they fall, then escape the country.
I use to love a open world game in my commodore 64, It was called Spindizzy, and It was about a diamond rotating around a isometric vectorial map, a gigantic one, collecting stuff.
I really like open world games, because I like to explore and get lost in new places, and find things I miss previusly, and my gameplay is more rich than way than in linear games. I despise linear games, and I think people sould stop making linear games, I don't see the point on linear games.
Recently I started playing Bioshock 2, and I think I am going to stop playing, since.. what is the point of playing it?, I can has well read the story in a wiki, or something,... a long linear game is like a long tutorial level.
so open world isn't really a genre.
things like action are genres. there can be good action games in bad open worlds and vice versa
To me "Open World" is just ambiance. It's something to muck about in for a bit between more story driven quests/episodes/sequences. Open World or no, a game still has to have good writing and a well developed world to make it entertaining. FO: NV had this in spades, which is why it's probably the best first person, open world, RPG I've ever played. You were never bored because there was always something interesting to do, it had fascinating and well developed characters to talk to, political factions to join or betray so it seemed like your actions actually affected the world.
Oblivion, Fallout 3, and even Morrowind (which I think is grossly overrated) fail as open world games not because they are open world, but because their worlds are boring and the writing is shit (especially compared to FO:NV).
So I think whether a game is open world or not doesn't have much to do with it, as for me it always comes down to writing and the wider aspects of designing an interesting world, whether that world is open or not.
Which isn't to say that games have to be "Written" to be interesting either. I had a load of fun playing "Warband" for about 75 hours or so, as even though that game doesn't really have storylines, per se, it does give you a sense of trying to survive all on your own in a vast kingdom which can be fun in the same way that playing other sandbox "survival" games like "terraria" can be.
Interesting thread. I think the thing that's missing from the discussion is a realization of the present limitations of the current gaming technology and how that impacts game design decisions. Fact of the matter is games like Skyrim & GTA for that matter have all been designed within the technological limitations of the PS3 & 360, and those limitations have dictated the depth of interaction and the possibility space of the genre over the last few years.
As we transition over to the next console generation, one that's clearly going to be more focused on actual horse power rather than graphics alone given HD is likely going to be with us for quite some time, the possibility space with respect to the number of systems that can be running concurrently within an open world game are going to significantly increase. Couple that with Blu-ray likely becoming the standard disc format and the massive increase in asset space that affords developers and I'd say it's going to be exciting to see how future titles shape up.